Last July I suddenly realized that Children’s Bible Ministries Philippines had reached 40 years! That’s just incredible when we think of all we’ve been through. I found it very encouraging to look back. Here are some highlights of the journey so far.
God started the world from nothing. He also started CBM from nothing! And here we are, still going and growing. God used the faith of a couple, ’Uncle’ Charlie & ‘Aunty’ Beryl McRae. They had found that children could be led to Christ and discipled, so they opened their home in New Lyn Auckland so that children in their street could come after school once week for a Bible Club. They ran it for three years and saw many changed lives. That led them to eventually form an organization and run camps for children, provide after school missions, develop stories, and eventually facilitate seminars training adults from various churches. In all this they trusted God for the finance and he provided. A younger couple Bill & Jean Morley worked with them fulltime. It was a very small mission!
After some events, Uncle Charlie & Aunty Beryl decided to establish this same ministry in the Philippines. By now they were in their 60s and didn’t have much finance available - some people thought they were ‘nuts!’ But God had proven himself faithful back in New Zealand. Now he would prove himself in Philippines! It’s a reminder for us to never give up on your dreams! As Daniel 11:32 tells us, “The people who know their God shall be strong and do great exploits.”
First they rented a house in Manila and began running training seminars for children’s ministry in the basement. One new Christian, a chemistry professor from University of the Philippines, remarked that she had been there before … when earlier tenants were making Molotov cocktails for the overthrow of Manila and printing communist propaganda! Those previous occupants were now in jail, but she was here, this time learning how to lead children to Christ and become a good citizen.
NOW, 40 years on, we have a 1.5 hectare property with seven buildings and 44 fulltime staff.
Making a Home
One day in 1976 a man visited the house. He and his wife had started a small children’s home for 13 children on the island of Mindoro. She had become very sick and he needed to take her back to the States. His question: would we take the project over?
Feed 13 children?!!
We hardly had enough to cover our own needs, let alone look after 13 children! We said we would pray. God gave us Psalm 37:25. “I was young and now am old, yet never have I seen the children of the righteous forsaken or lacking bread.”
NOW, 40 years on, hundreds of needy children have passed through, come to faith in Jesus, received schooling and been given a chance in life. God has never failed us. In 2014 we began a Home for children with disabilities, giving another group of children that same chance in life.
Training a Team
One time Aunty Beryl got the idea that we should start a Bible College in our house. One Sunday, while in the States for a conference, she was in a church service listening to the sermon when the preacher stretched out his arm, pointed directly at her and said “That which is in your heart, do!”
She was stunned.
Towards the end of his message he did it again: “That which is in your heart, do!” So, Uncle Charlie and Aunty Beryl began the Bible College in our house. We started with five students, but eventually it grew to 80! We used the backyard, the front terrace, the living room and the basement for classrooms!
NOW, 40 years on, that Bible College has trained several hundred students who have gone out, started Christian schools, pioneered churches, ventured overseas and some became staff members of CBM.
Preparing the Next Generation
We started a little pre-school to reach out to local children on our new property early in the 1900s. In 1997 we experienced a fire which almost totally destroyed 20 years of work and most of our building. Parents were clamouring for us to start a primary school... but we didn’t even have a roof anymore! Nonetheless, we received permission and started Grade 1.
NOW, 40 years on, we have pre-school to high school catering for 350 children each day, which includes a department for deaf and autistic students with an Occupational Therapist.
Reaching the Forgotten
In the early 90s our International Director Jean Morley visited. Noticing that one of our staff members in our office was disabled she said, “Briccio you are disabled.” She had realized something. “Let’s use your disability to bring others with disabilities to Christ.” He was eager as nothing much was being done for disabled people, so he went to New Zealand for training. On his return he started a small group in our place. From that, he and others formed a group for people with disabilities in each of our 24 towns. Camps for disabled were started each summer and many have put their trust in Jesus.
NOW, 40 years on, at one recent meeting over 300 came from the different towns! We are even asked to attend government planning meetings from time to time as the voice for disabled!
ALL THIS FROM NOTHING!!! Thanks to all who have prayed and supported. To God be all the glory!
Dianne and her team, along with up to 600 guests, will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of CBM Philippines today (January 22).
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